The Gold Coast will put itself well and truly on the international Rugby Sevens map in November with the official confirmation today that eight-time world champions New Zealand will contest this year’s Hyperion Gold Coast International Sevens.
New Zealand will join reigning world champions Samoa and Michael O’Connor’s Australians, giving the Gold Coast the world’s top three Sevens playing nations for the 20-team competition at Albert Park, Surfers Paradise on November 13 and 14.
Samoa finished on top of the IRB Sevens World Series for 2009-10 on 164 points from New Zealand (149) and Australia (122).
The teams Aussie Spirit (Australian Rugby Union), Emerging New Zealand (New Zealand Rugby Union), Samoa 7s (Samoan Rugby Union) and PNG Aroma Coast (Papua New Guinea ) will all arrive on the Gold Coast just a month after playing at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, which kick off on October 3 (rugby to be played on October 11 and 12).
The Kiwis, under the expert guidance of the world’s foremost Sevens coach, Gordon Tietjens, are unbeaten in Commonwealth Games since the first Sevens tournament in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and will be shooting for their fourth straight Games gold.
New Zealand will play on the Gold Coast under the Emerging NZ banner with Tietjens likely to use the Gold Coast tournament to blood some of his developing players in the lead up to the opening round of the IRB World Series Sevens in Dubai in December.
O’Connor’s Australians will play under the Aussie Spirit banner and will also be keen to fly the flag just a month after the Delhi Games.
It will be another ideal opportunity for the Gold Coast to shine in its bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Our tournament will be like a mini-Commonwealth Games, very exciting indeed,” said tournament director Luca Liussi today.
“To have confirmation of a team representing New Zealand and a team representing Samoa to join the Australians will make our tournament one of the most prestigious outside the IRB Sevens World Series.
“There is no reason why we couldn’t have the gold, silver and bronze medallists from Delhi lining up in the Gold Coast event.
“New Zealand has named four All Blacks in its team for the Commonwealth Games and with Australia fielding a team for Delhi that includes players like Wallabies Lachie Turner and Luke Morahan, there will be a great build up for the Gold Coast event.
“The interest is enormous and we have already had to expand our event from 16 teams last year to 20 this year and there is also a long list of teams waiting to get a start.
“We will also feature an eight strong women’s competition with the majority of Australia’s best players sprinkled among the teams.”
But it has been the New Zealanders who have been the dominant force in international Sevens taking the World Series crown eight of the last 11 times, since its inception in 1999-2000 – a program that has seen 34 All Blacks graduate through the Sevens pathway under Tietjens guidance.
The Kiwis have also been unbeaten in Commonwealth Games Sevens, beating Fiji for the ’98 gold medal before backing up with gold medals in Manchester in 2002 when they again accounted for Fiji and Melbourne in 2006 when they beat England.
Australia has only ever won one Commonwealth Games medal – bronze in KL in 1998 with the incomparable David Campese leading the Australians to a 33-12 win over Samoa.
With Fiji banned from the Commonwealth Games, three Fijian combinations, defending champions South Sea Drifters, Air Pacific Global Waimanu and Davetalevu, will all be keen to make their presence felt.
Among other international teams confirmed are the Arabian Gulf Barbarians (Arabian Gulf), Niue Wanderers (Niue Rugby Union), International Samurais (UK/NZ), PNG Southern Chiefs (PNG), MMI Kimbe Rebels (PNG), the Taranaki Academy (NZ) as well as Super 14 teams Queensland Reds 7s (Queensland Rugby Union), the Force 7s (WA Rugby Union) and the NSW Jnr Waratah 7s (NSW Rugby Union),
The confirmed women’s teams are: Defending champions Eastsyde Brisbane (QLD), Samurai International (Australia), PNG Southern Chiefs (PNG), Sunnybank Women’s (QLD), Gold Coast Academy (QLD) and PNG Defence Women’s Rugby (PNG).
CONFIRMED TEAMS FOR THE HYPERION GOLD COAST INTERNATIONAL SEVENS
· Samoa 7s Samoa Rugby Football Union
Emerging New Zealand New Zealand Rugby Football Union
Aussie Spirit Australian Rugby Union
Arabian Gulf Barbarians Arabian Gulf Rugby Union
Niue Wanderers Niue Rugby Union
PNG Aroma Coast Papua New Guinea Rugby Union
Queensland Reds 7s Queensland Rugby Union
Force 7s Western Australian Rugby Union
NSW Jr Waratah 7s New South Wales Rugby Union
Taranaki Academy New Zealand
South Sea Drifters Fiji
International Samurais UK / New Zealand
Air Pacific Global Waimanu Fiji
PNG Southern Chiefs Papua New Guinea
MMI Kimbe Rebels Papua New Guinea
Lloyd McDermott Australia
Gold Coast Breakers Australia
Eastsyde Brisbane Australia
Samurai International Australia
PNG Southern Chiefs Papua New Guinea
Sunnybank Women’s Australia
Gold Coast Academy Australia
PNG Defence Women’s Rugby Papua New Guinea
Arongatahi Women's 7's New Zealand
Wests Women’s Bulldogs Australia